Fueling Your Body for Performance and Recovery

After looking at some diet trends last week, you may still be wondering what you’re supposed to eat before, during and after a workout. Though this can vary greatly if you are training for higher level events (e.g. Ironman triathlon or body building prep – much more specific eating plans needed for these types of events), you can apply the same general principles to most common workouts for yourself. Recovery is such an important part of a workout, and nutrition is incredibly important in making sure recovery is happening

Before exercise
Carbs are your friends. Your body needs glucose, which is the broken down form of carbohydrate, for fuel. If you are wanting your body to perform, it makes sense to fill it with fuel. You can’t get far on an empty tank! Timing-wise, you can eat more about 4 hours or more prior to an event or workout. For example, a bowl of oatmeal with some fresh fruit, a glass of milk and maybe an egg or two can be a great option for breakfast before a big game. Oatmeal provides fibre, protein and carbohydrates in slowly-digesting package (meaning that it will break down slower and therefore provide you with energy over a longer time frame). Fruit also provides carbohydrates with the added benefit of being delicious. Milk has some protein, and also lactose (which breaks down into glucose!). Eggs are great to add more protein if you have a day of heavy lifting ahead of you. 
As the workout or event time approaches, you’ll want to lessen your intake. It’s going to be tough to perform your best when your body is busy trying to digest. And nobody wants to have to make a run for the toilet during an important match. Have a small snack, maybe a piece of fruit with a bit of peanut butter for dipping or a granola bar or a small bowl of cereal to give yourself a small but quick boost of fuel. 
During exercise
Similar to how you don’t want to eat too heavy immediately before the event, you don’t want to be eating a ton during a workout either. You may be fine with just water, but if your workout is feeling particularly intense, choose a quick-digesting carbohydrate as a boost. A sport drink could provide this. If you’re feeling like you need something, but don’t want to be guzzling sugary sport drink, take a sip and swish it around in your mouth before spitting it out. Your body will absorb some of the glucose just by swishing and you’ll still get that added boost. 
After exercise
Protein generally becomes more important post-workout. No, you do not have to sit down to a steak dinner (unless that’s your thing, then go for it!). After a workout, you have depleted your body of fuel. It needs more fuel to recover. Glucose (from carbohydrates) gives your muscles energy to do what they do. It also gives your brain energy to remember to keep breathing. By replenishing this glucose store, you are helping your body to recover. You’ll feel better, and there is less chance you’ll experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. You also need to give your body protein. No matter what the workout was, your muscles just did a whole lot of contracting. They need protein to help rebuild and repair any muscle tissue that may be inflamed post-workout. It is best to eat something within 30 minutes following the end of activity for optimal recovery.
Post workout snacks might include the following:
– Greek yogurt with fruit and granola (Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurts)
– Peanut (or other nut) butter and banana on toast
– Protein smoothie
– Hummus and vegetables
Again, this is only a simple breakdown. If you are looking for more ideas for snacks, head over to google or pinterest and start searching. There are a on of great recipes and ideas on the internet these days! Or if you’re looking for a more personalized approach, make an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist.
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